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support bands


Frosty Jack
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Recently my band have done a few gigs, both as support, and as headliners (playing last...) Started me thinking - is there a difference? Should you approach these gigs differently? Are some bands better suited to being supports, or only really good as headliners?

Is the job of a support just to warm up a crowd for the main act? Or should you aim to blow them off the stage?

Does a support have to be similar in style, or is a varied bill better?

As an aside, my band are playing Downstairs on 30th August, and looking for a support. Who should we get?

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From my own experience it depends how you want to spend your evening.. If you are a support band you can start and finish earlier and make a night of it after you play.. The later you are on stage the less you can get drunk (unless you can handle your drink and play well lol).

If its your own gig choose a band or a couple of bands similar to your own music. Im not sure of eclectic gigs from the point of view of putting on your own show as the crowd may disperse before you even get on stage, particularly if the support band is a different genre from your own band.

 

Quite often in gigs I have played in there is no hierarchy.. All bands are usually amateur bands and are on a level playing field. 

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I approach every gig the same. Play the best I can and have all the fun I can muster. Will I machine gun an audience of 3 with my guitar? Yup. At the end of the day, it's up to the headliners to look like they deserve that spot. Fuck them if they don't make an effort.

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I think that the same general rules apply for bands no matter where they are on the bill:

 

1. Promote the gig as much as you can, especially if you're the local support for an out of town band.

2. Turn up on time and bring all the kit you need.

3. Soundchecking, don't take 2 hours because you're a bunch of disorganised cunts - leave time for the other bands. Easy for me to say, we don't need a soundcheck so ours are 5 mins....if that - but some bands just take the piss.......

4. Play as hard as you can, no matter how many people are there. Fuck warming a crowd up for someone else, if you're suporting try set a standard that the other bands have to meet.

5. Watch the other bands - no sneaking off before your set, or leaving as soon as you've played.

6. Don't wear your audience out by playing gigs every week, headlining or supporting.

 

That's pretty much it for me.

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Its a really tough question, ive seen bands like Genesis, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack and Alex Harvey Band play support and put the 'headliners' to shame, and when I managed Liber8 and their future incarnation I saw them play to a packed house and the punters all leaving for the 'main' band, sad but hey ho!!

Every band should be able to do both of course.... complex bands are a nightmare as a support and support bands are a nightmare for complex headliners (Pallas) talking from experience here...!

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